Social Good Summit 2018: Building together the Chisinau of tomorrow

How do we transform our city to be friendly to both humans and nature? How do we rearrange the streets so that they become friendly to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians? What are the technological solutions to efficiently manage city resources and improve public services? The digitization of administrative services, the extension of ecological transport, the promotion of technologies that reduce the level of CO2 can be a reality for Chisinau.

These were the topics discussed by urban planners, representatives of IT and telecommunications companies, representatives of development projects, civic activists and the capital's inhabitants at the Social Good Summit. The event was held on September 26, 2018, at its fourth edition. The Social Good Summit is organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with its Green City Lab project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

"A city for people meets four characteristics. First of all, it is a lively city, a life that is seen in the street, through movement, circulation. It is a safe city by the presence of people in the street who walk on foot. It is a sustainable city that adopts green, ecological transport. It is a healthy city that predisposes to move," says Victor Chironda, civic activist.

According to Chironda, Chisinau has all the chances of becoming a functional city by the year 2050, with living areas, recreational areas, offices, among which people move around on the boulevards. For this, there is a need to create a street redevelopment plan and a municipal fund that will accumulate parking income, local taxes, fines and external financing. These funds should be earmarked for the financing of street redesign and reconstruction works.

A friendly city is also a city accessible to all people, says Victoria Botan of the Motivation Association: "A Chisinau accessible for all can become a reality. For this, when we build new spaces, we can test their functionality by involving people with different types of disability, parents with children in baby carriages, cyclists. That's the only way we can get a universal design, that's comfortable for everyone."

Victoria says that people with disabilities are becoming more visible, as necessary conditions for their free movement are being created.

Ana Cazacu, cyclist and medalist of the international triathlon competition "Ironman", reported that it was difficult to train for the cycling race: "Chisinau does not favor cycling. Drivers are disrespectful, honking me, ironise me, sometimes getting in my way. I must accelerate to get escape aggressive dogs."

Cyclists have to participate in events and in large numbers to convince the authorities that their voices must be heard, Ana says.

"We did an experiment, and we wanted to see to what extent the public transport timetable was respected, and we found that this is only happening in 12% of the approx. 400 monitored cases. In more than half of the cases, it is delayed by more than three minutes, and this data is very optimistic," says Cristina Voroneanu, a member of the initiative “Primăria Mea". Cristina believes that public transport can become a priority for the authorities if people express their dissatisfaction but also contribute ideas.

UNDP will develop an online civic participation platform for Chisinau. The Innovation Laboratory Green City Lab, which will be created by UNDP and will serve Chisinau municipality, will stimulate investments for green low carbon urban development.

Over the next five years, several demo projects will be implemented. These include: electric power stations installed on the main urban routes, renewable solar palm trees, PET collection stations, and so on.

"We should all participate in the development of our city. Cities are for people, not for bitumen or for cars. Our laboratory will try to animate many sectors, urban mobility, waste management and energy efficiency, putting people at the center of urban development," says Alexandru Rotaru, project manager at UNDP Moldova.

The Institute for European Policies and Reforms presented a modern concept of urban mobility favorable to the development of public transport infrastructure and cycling tracks. The Association of ICT Companies has promoted the concept of digitizing mandatory public services for "smart" cities.

Private sector representatives have come up with solutions to develop a smart city for people.

Orange Moldova presented ideas for a smart public space: managing street lighting through sensors and motion detectors and "flux vision", i.e. real-time mobility statistics to consider when optimizing public transport networks or shops and shopping centers.

Dekart proposes an electronic ticketing system in public transport, which has already been piloted in Odessa.

Half of the Moldovan population will migrate to cities by 2030. The influx of new residents will be felt especially in Chisinau, which will host over 50% of the entire urban population of the country by 2030, this will increase the pressure on infrastructure and services, while creating considerable social and environmental challenges.